- The Washington Times - Friday, May 3, 2002

Since U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has disbanded the fact-finding mission to the Jenin refugee camp, people will just have to take their facts where they find them.

And where will they find them? Not under the Jenin rubble, which has yielded zero evidence of the "massacre" Israel was falsely accused of committing during its military raid on the terrorist stronghold last month. Now, as press reports dispel the wild rumors of "mass graves" and "war crimes," even Kadoura Mousa Kadoura, a Fatah director for the region, has told The Washington Times that he no longer believes a massacre took place. Such testimonies only bolster Israel's description of the fierce battle that claimed the lives of 23 Israeli soldiers and roughly 50 Palestinians, mainly fighters, as the Israeli army fought house-to-booby-trapped house, seeking to minimize civilian casualties as it attempted to destroy a terrorist infrastructure responsible for dozens of suicide attacks.

Also worth noting are the reports in the Arab media that equally underscore the difficulties Israeli forces faced. Take the eyewitness account of "Omar," a one-armed bomb-maker from Jenin or, as the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram (www.ahram.org.eg/weekly) described him, "one of the revered bomb-makers from the City of Bombers." Interviewed after his escape from Jenin, Omar explained how he and other "engineers" made "hundreds of explosive devices," and hid them throughout the camp to "trap the invading soldiers and blow them up."

"We had more than 50 houses booby-trapped around the camp," Omar said. "We chose old and empty buildings and the houses of men who were wanted by Israel because we knew the soldiers would search for them. We cut off lengths of mains water pipes and packed them with explosives and nails. Then we placed them about four meters apart throughout the houses in cupboards, under sinks, in sofas." All of which begins to sound as if the Israelis had an awful lot of help from the Palestinians in blowing up the football-field-sized-section of the refugee camp that now lies in ruins. (When MSNBC's Alan Keyes put this theory before the PLO's Hasan Abdul Rahman last week after having read aloud from the exploits of Omar in Al-Ahram Mr. Rahman replied, "That's Israel's propaganda.")

And not just the houses were rigged to explode. As Omar told Al-Ahram and the Israeli government told the world the streets of Jenin were also booby-trapped. "According to Omar," Al-Ahram reported, "everyone in the camp, including the children, knew where the explosives were located so there was no danger of civilians being injured." Indeed, Omar also said Jenin women actually helped lure the Israelis into death-traps.

Other Arab sources tell similar tales. Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memri.org) has posted reports on Jenin from various Palestinian factional commanders that echo Omar's experience. In telling their war stories, these fighters also refer to a crucial role played by women who stayed behind "to provide services for the fighters" and, even more shockingly, children, too.

"Believe me, there are children stationed in the houses with explosive belts at their sides," an Islamic Jihad commander told Al Jhazeera during the battle. "Today, one of the children came to me with his school bag. I asked him what he wanted, and he replied, 'Instead of books, I want an explosive device, in order to attack.' " Maybe he was the child Israeli troops apprehended carrying three pipe bombs in a satchel. Other reports of child-fighters included one appearing in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat about "youths" who put four Israeli tanks out of commission.

This sounds like child abuse at its most lethal a human rights scandal U.N. fact-finders might care to look into.


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